Mystics shine against cross-town rivals
SKYCITY Mystics posted their first win of the season in style, outclassing the Northern Stars 58-44 to claim the honours in the Battle of Auckland in Manukau on Wednesday.
Friends and former team-mates clashed head-on in the much-anticipated first contest of what is expected to become an enduring and special rivalry between the two Auckland-based teams.
But there was no fairytale homecoming for new entity the Stars, who were over-run from the outset by the pace and precision of the Mystics.
The early signs were not a good omen for the home team, the Mystics getting away to a flyer and putting the stamp on their building momentum of recent weeks.
The Mystics defensive line of Anna Harrison, Storm Purvis and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson set the platform, starving the Stars shooters of opportunities with a relentless presence.
The athletic and inventive midcourt pairing of Elisapeta Toeava and Sasha Corbin dominated the attacking flow to provide shooters Maria Tutaia and Bailey Mes an abundance of ball.
An unbeaten run of seven straight goals while keeping the Stars scoreless for six minutes resulted in the introduction of Fiji import Afa Rusivakula (goal attack) and Emma Iversen (centre), which momentarily halted the Mystics charge.
But there was no denying the Mystics’ dominance when they led 16-7 at the first break.
There was a little more resistance from the home team on the resumption but with Tutaia in majestic form under the hoop and the Mystics operating in perfect unison as a team, there were few opportunities to break the shackles.
At her menacing best, Harrison was a constant disruption in the Stars circle, the home team not helped by too many turnovers as the Mystics raced into the halftime break in a commanding position when leading 32-19.
The Stars responded to a halftime rev-up from the coach with more urgency and accuracy during the third stanza. Shooter Maia Wilson returned for a more successful second stint, finding good space under the hoop as her team did a decent job in chipping away at the deficit.
Reducing the Mystics lead to seven, the Stars, however, couldn’t sustain their pressure, the visitors finishing strongly to maintain a healthy 44-33 lead at the last break.
The Mystics ensured there would be no hiccups in the run home, continuing to punish Stars errors while making sure of their own opportunities.